Monday, May 10, 2010

Having Fun with Nicolas Nickleby

I've talked before about the benefits of having children involved in theater. For my family, it has served my very different children well in helping them grow.

My daughter is very outgoing and just loves theater. It gives her a creative outlet and an appropriate way to shine - and project that voice, I might add. We don't have indoor and outdoor voices in our house. We have indoor and theater voices. For my son, who is a bit quieter, it gives him a structured and safe way to step out there. It works on his public speaking skills and gives him practice on how to effectively communicate. For both of them, the opportunity to work as a team, together as a cast, has been a great experience that will carry over to other areas.

We just finished our fourth annual production, Nicholas Nickleby, with Homeschoolers on Stage, under the direction of my dear friend, Katy. This is my daughter's seventh production overall; she's done two other productions with other groups. This makes for the sixth production for my son, who also performed with my daughter with other groups. Of course, even though theater productions are hard work and a learning experience, they are also just plain fun!

This year brought about some extra challenges. Dickens' Nicolas Nickleby wasn't a story with which most of the kids were familiar and they started off by watching a DVD of the 2002 movie starring Jamie Bell and Charlie Hunnam. They learned their lines quickly, but getting the hang of a British accent was more difficult for some. Also new this year was that one of the cast members completely designed the set to earn a badge for Boy Scouts.

The costumes this year were quite a challenge, since most cast members had multiple roles. I lucked out in that my son played just one role, Smike. Even those this was a smaller part as far as lines, Smike is a main character and a dual role wasn't possible because of the amount of time Smike was on stage. His costume was fairly easy and I put it together inexpensively with borrowed items, old costume pieces, and selections from the Salvation Army.

My daughter played both Fanny and Mrs. Crummles. Mrs. Crummles' costume was put together with a skirt, blouse, and shawl from the Salvation Army, and an antique hat I already owned. I made the sash (bright purple, though you can't see in the pic) with fabric from Walmart at $1/yard!

Fanny was a bit more difficult and pricey, but I found a great deal on eBay. The costume suited the character perfectly.
One of my roles as a theater mom is dealing with hair. Making stick straight hair curl is no easy task. After several productions, I think I've almost perfected my method, which involves lots of hairspray and stick hot rollers. Even though the curls slowly loosen throughout the production, there are still plenty left when all is said and done.

Everyone was both excited and sad to see the production come to an end after a matinee and two evening performances for family, friends, and the community.
We are already looking forward to next year's production.


Diane said...

I couldn't agree more with you about drama and performances. My daughter was once very anxiety ridden and performing has really helped her come out of her shell. She has been in three performances this year with her drama class and will be in the Wizard of Oz this summer with our community theatre. I am afraid she has caught the acting bug.

Heidi said...


I am so excited to hear about your daughter's theater experiences that reflect our own. It has done wonders for my shy child. Tell her to "break a leg" during her Wizard of Oz performance for me!